(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

366                        THE  HIGH-FINNED CACHALOT                      CHAI>_
Sperm Whale. Marco Polo took much the same view, but
suggested that the Whale did not deliberately attack the ship,
but was deceived by the foam following in its wake into thinking
" there is something to eat afloat, and makes a rush forward,
whereby it shall often stave in some part of the ship." l
Sir W. Flower and many others are of opinion that there is
but one species of Cachalot. But many names have been given
to supposed other forms. The genus itself has even been
divided, and to a set of vertebrae from the south Dr, Gray gave
the perfectly superfluous name of Meganeuron Tcreffti. The " High-
finned Cachalot" rests mainly upon the suggestions of Sir Robert
Sibbald. It is supposed to have a high dorsal fin, and teeth in
the upper as well as in the lower jaw. Common though it was
asserted by its describer to be, there is not a bone, not a fragment
even of a bone, alleged to belong to Physeter tursio in any
museum in the world! It seems premature, therefore, to include
this mysterious creature in any list of Cetacea, though that was
done by no less a naturalist than the late Mr. Thomas Bell. It
is this creature round which most of the stories of ferocity con-
gregate. It is held to be the monster from which Perseus
delivered Andromeda, and which was about to devour Angelica
upon the shore of Brittany. The fact of the matter is, that the
Sperm Whale, like so very many other Whales, is world-wide in
range; and those naturalists who did not believe in so wide a
distribution found themselves obliged, in order to satisfy their
own. views, to create new species for those of distant localities.
Hence the dozen or so of synonyms which refer to what is to be
called PTvyset&r fnacroe&phalus.
The genus JZbgia (sometimes written Cogia), the so-called
" Pygmy Sperm Whale/* is a southern form of much smaller
dimensions than its gigantic ally just described. Kogia does
not exceed 15 feet or so in length. It differs from Pfayseter
also in the well-marked and falcate dorsal fn, in its generally
delphinoid form, in the short snout, and the more normal (for a
Whale) shape of the blow-hole, which is crescentic.
There are also a number of osteological characters in which
the two Physeterines differ from each other. In Kogia all the
cervical vertebrae are ankylosed together ; the skull is short,
equally asymmetrical; the ribs are as many as twelve or
Trowels of Marco Polo, Ii. London, 1874, p: 231.